NEW PALTZ – Bruce Sillner, formerly the dean of the Center for International Programs at SUNY New Paltz, has announced his intention to enter a phased retirement after a distinguished, 33-year career serving domestic and international students and faculty at the College.
Beth Vargas, former associate dean, succeeds Sillner as the College’s senior international officer. Her new title will be executive director of the Center for International Programs. Sillner will remain at New Paltz as senior advisor on global strategy
Sillner, a long-time resident of Kingston, New York, is currently the longest-serving senior international officer in the SUNY system and a true pioneer in the field of international education.
Named founding dean of the Center for International Programs in 2001, Sillner has administered the College’s study abroad and exchange programs, international student and scholar services, international undergraduate admissions and international recruitment. He has also overseen a host of globally focused programs on the New Paltz campus.
Sillner has played a key role in expanding study abroad opportunities at New Paltz from about a dozen programs, largely in Western Europe, to more than 70 options in 30 countries and on six continents.
In 2015, the Center for International Programs earned recognition for its exceptional work helping students study abroad, receiving the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education from the Institute of International Education. The Heiskell Award specifically recognized New Paltz’s high rate of participation of students from underrepresented groups in study abroad.
Vargas, a resident of Highland, New York, joined SUNY New Paltz in 1999 and ascended to the role of associate dean of international programs in 2010.
She has worked tirelessly to bolster programs and services for international students at SUNY New Paltz, while assuring the College’s compliance with federal regulations governing such programs.
Vargas is also a highly regarded expert on immigration regulations affecting international students and scholars. She has lent her expertise in these areas to members of the campus community, filing petitions on behalf of the College with the Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
She has served on the SUNY Global International Student and Scholar Health Insurance Committee since 2004, and made key contributions to the Power of SUNY – SUNY and the World strategic plan.